Ever have those moments in life where you really step back and question things? As a brand, we stand for raising awareness for recovery from addiction and human trafficking. In my real life behind the brand, I’m daily sitting with people who are in all stages of recovery and learning to overcome all sorts of hell. As you sit with others and help guide them through their own recovery and spiritual journey, God has a way of reminding you about your own journey as well.

Even though I’ve been walking in the recovery world for a few years now and giving back in many ways, I still have these seasons where I step back and really question things. What kind of things really rattle you and bring you into those seasons?

There are 2 things that do this…
1. Triggering thoughts from the past
2. Challenging circumstances

Triggering Thoughts from the Past

We all have them… thoughts from the past that pop back in the forefront of our minds every now and then. You see a person walk past, you see a picture, you hear a song on the radio, someone says a phrase, you smell a familiar scent and instantly you’re back to that dark moment. If it’s not caught, you find your mind swirling all around and your emotions begin a roller coaster experience.

Challenging Circumstances

None of us go through challenge stuff right!? Ha! So you know how this one works too… there you are just trying to survive and do the next right dang thing and BAM! You get that phone call, that text message, that bank statement, that sickness, that tough conversation, that relationship change, that conflict and instantly you’re sent backwards internally and don’t know what to do.

Both of these things aim to take us backward and even out completely. Lies we believe and isolation are some of the greatest enemies to life and recovery. Think about those 2 attacks above (triggering thoughts and challenging circumstances)… you tell me how those things affect you. Experience tells me those areas are the start to some of the most hellish moments we’ve all been through. Something triggers us or something hard happens and before we know it, we’re all sideways in our head. We rush so quick to those shame messages. Before we know it, we’re telling ourselves that we suck, nobody cares, and if we’re honest sometimes even like God sucks. If we stay in that headspace, we lose our sense of purpose and our drive. What comes next is seldom anything good. We pull back and begin looking for validation in all the wrong ways and places and people. Compromise is right around the corner and really we’ve already relapsed in toxic behavior before any action is even made.

These things burn so deeply within us because we ALL can relate. So what do we do about it? How can we pull ourselves out of an internal tailspin or regain our faith after a failure?

How to Climb Out of a Tailspin

When I previously flew airplanes (yes that’s part of what I thought I would be doing before God completely changed my direction), my training taught me how to recover from a stall and even worse how to avoid the fatal spin. Pilots have to train how to handle every possible situation, including a stall. Stalls happen when the aircraft flies too slow to keep the physical reaction of lift from taking place. Furthermore, if the plane is already flying off balance or out of whack too much as it enters the stall speed, the aircraft won’t just stall and begin to fall but may also spin as it falls out of control. Anyone who’s seen the movie Top Gun may remember that fatal F-14 spin. Now testing these stalls and learning to avoid spins terrified me, but we had to learn by experience. This aimed to prepare me for a proper response if an actual stall ever happened. I can tell you it’s not a very fun thing being in a potential stall situation, and it’s not very fun to prepare for them but it’s so important!

In the Bible, we get to peer into the story of Israel who repeatedly went through these relapse stall/spin cycles. Similarly, it’s so critical to see God’s repeated instruction to them that aimed to help prepare them when triggers and circumstances hit.

  • Genesis 50:21 – ‘So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
  • Exodus 14:13 – Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
  • Exodus 20:20 – Moses said to the people ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’
  • Deuteronomy 1:21 – See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
  • Deuteronomy 1:29 – Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.’
  • Deuteronomy 3:2 – The Lord said to me ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon
  • Deuteronomy 7:18 – But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.
  • Deuteronomy 20:1 – When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.
  • Joshua 1:9 – ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
  • Joshua 8:1 – Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.’
  • Joshua 10:8 – The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.’
  • Judges 6:23 – But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’
  • 2 Kings 6:16 – ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
  • Job 5:21 – You will be protected from the last of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
  • Job 11:15 – then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.
  • Psalm 3:6 – I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
  • Psalm 4:8 – In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
  • Psalm 16:7-9 I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
  • Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
  • Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 27:3 – Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
  • Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
  • Psalm 46:2 – Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
  • Psalm 91:5 – You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
  • Psalm 94:19 – When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
  • Psalm 118:6 – The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
  • Psalm 119:165 – Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
  • Isaiah 12:2 – Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.’

Now all those passages (and many more too) reminded God’s people Israel to NOT fear. Notice those reminders were all centered in their thinking and emotions. When they met triggers or circumstances that aimed to send their thinking sideways, they were reminded to NOT fear but look to God.

In that airplane stall practice I mentioned earlier, we were taught to NOT fear but to TRUST the process we were taught. We were taught to keep the aircraft all balanced, aligned, and flying straight no matter what. Then we were taught to look for signals of a potentially too slow speed where a stall could occur. Finally, we were taught the sequence of power and yoke control to handle a stall if one ever occurred. These scenarios, preventative, and recovery processes were all drilled into us so it became built in habit.

Life WILL be filled with triggers and circumstances aimed at taking you into a fatal spin and ultimately out. But God gives us the tools and training to meet these attacks head on and come out the other side still flying and thriving. It all centers on your focus. Now there are many other aspects to recovery, but for the sake of this post, focusing off the trigger or circumstance and instead on prevention through looking upward to God and trusting His process is so important.

Another time we’ll break down some steps about trusting God’s process and how that can look specifically. One last thing though… as this prevention and appropriate response becomes more habit, your why (your purpose) will become more clear. The reason is simple too. One last time back to our airplane example… when an aircraft is in stall mode, the pilot couldn’t really give a rip about the destination. Instead stall mode brings survival mode to the forefront of importance. Purpose gets lost in just trying to survive. But as a pilot learns to avoid stall mode and how to recover from one if unforeseen circumstances happen, then the intended destination (purpose of the flight) remains in focus.

So friends, keep learning about yourself and growing and surrendering. As you do, you’ll find your confidence, consistency, and calling!

- Derek

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